Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Benotto "Cello-Tape" is Back!

First a dainty piece of bicycle history pie about Benotto Bicycles. Started in Italy by the Benotto family, they moved to Mexico in the 80's (it's rumored romance sparked the move ooo-la-la). Benotto Handlebar Tape was THE handlebar tape to have on your bike in the 70's and 80's. It's plastic, light, shiny and comes in 14 colors!!! Get it if you are into the vintage look, get it if you want something sleeker looking than cork, get thee to our store!
Benotto Tape in that logo

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lauterwasser Handlebars Launched

It is with great pleasure we are releasing an updated version of the racing bars that Olympic cyclist and cycling engineer Jack Lauterwasser hand-made in the 1930's. We received a few requests a couple of years ago to reproduce this bar design. We learned the originals were much sought after by collectors. With its unusual design, we knew right away if we wanted to do this right, we would need to find one of the original bars. So we plunked down a few hundred bucks to some stranger on the internet and soon it arrived(complete with an antique bike attached no less....seller would not sell the bar separately).

We tried to keep the design fairly close to the original with modern touches to make the bar more practical. Grip OD was changed to 22.2 to fit MTB grips and the drops were lengthened to accommadate levers. The stem clamp was widened to 25.4mm (Sorry 26.0mm fans - get a shim). There were suggestions to make it narrow like a modern drop bar, but that altered the look too much.

Width is 48cm (same as our sample). Drop is 90mm. This is the first bar we are producing in both aluminum and steel. Steel version will take bar end shifters and is a little stiffer of course.

How do they ride? Well this no upright townie bar. If you compare it to a Nitto Moustache bar, it has more drop, a more forward position, and narrower. It is very comfortable to get out of the seat and mash on the pedals with this bar. Definitely more comfortable than a full-on drop bar. You can also move your hands forward to get into a more aero position when desired. We recommend a short stem to preserve the original look, but do what you want. Handling is very stable on bikes with hybrid/CX geometry.

Threw these on a friend's commuter bike for kicks.

Above: Original versions of the Lauterwasser Below: Original bar on an old Raleigh. Most
old set-ups we've seen is with a tall quill stem with super short extension. This seems to
give the most clean look, but please don't just go by looks. Figure out what works best for
your riding and your bicycle's geometry. Most likely it doesn't quite match a 1930's race bike.
(Picture courtesy of Haight Ashbury)

Now how do you pronounce the name? You don't want show off this fine bar to your buddies and murder the name when you explain it. Lauterwasser is German, so you can pronounce it "lot-ta-vossa"; however Jack Lauterwasser was born in London, England and he pronounced his name like a Cockney would ("lorda-was-suh"). An apt American pronounciation could be "lot-ter-wasser", but the others are more fun to use.

In 1928 Jack won a silver medal in the 160km road race event at the Amsterdam Olympics. He rode to and from Amsterdam. In the same year he also broke the 50 and 100 mile RRA records.

Jack learned how to build wheels in his teens but in 1929, with Olympic and record-breaking success behind him, he set up his own cycle shop in Holloway Road, London, and marketed his own brand of bikes.

His "Lauterweight" brand specialized in racing machines, the lightest of which was 17.5 lbs.
More biographical info
on Mr. Lauterwasser here.

Currently available at our online shop and Rene Herse Cycles, but your LBS can get them too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Introducing the Soma Analog

Click on image to zoom (+)

Our new 26" wheel cross-country trail bike doesn't feature any never-thought-of-before pivot locations. It doesn't have any acronyms tacked to its name. Its tubes don't have fancy bloated shapes. BUT neither does it require a mechanical engineering degree to explain how exceptional a ride it can be. While most bikes flaunt their technology (being "digital"), we search to bring out the soul of a bike ("analog").

The Analog features our time-tested spec of Tange Prestige double butted heat-treated CrMo tubing with modern XC geometry. It has a longer top tube than our Groove frame and is optimized for 100mm travel forks. We did put fender eyelets on, but we don't feel many of the buyers of this frame will use them. This frame is more about off-road fun than utility. We do want to point out the elegant Tange stainless steel Sliding Dropouts, which greatly simplifies your ability to change the build from single speed to geared. Maybe the look isn't as clean as using an eccentric bottom bracket, but they are a few grams lighter, plus this is mountain biking... how much do we care about clean?

We gave it a classic look with the panels and the blue we picked will look really nice with a Fox fork. (We are calling it "Pacific Blue" after that award winning TV show from the 90's.... with (hubba hubba) Paula Trickey and Mario Lopez) The ride is balanced and compliant and rides lighter than it actually is. It won't have the clunky overbuilt feel of some entry to mid-level steel bikes you might have tried.

Available to our distributors and shops next week.
UPDATE 12-21-10: Geometry is up.

Mission Block Party 2010:The Taco Bike, San Pancho Art Collective's new home(old morgue), free booze

The Mission Holiday Block Party was last Friday! This meant the merchants of the Mission opened their doors until 10pm, offering free PBR, 2 buck chuck and killer deals. There were gallery openings, djs spinning, and of course bizarre elements of San Francisco bike culture.

Our first stop as we made our way down Valencia Street was the Incline Gallery-new home to the San Pancho Art Collective(the group of artists responsible for the gorgeous mural on back of Mission Pie). Their current show "Something from Nothing" featured works by one of the founders Christo Oropeza and other members. We chatted with Christo for a bit and found out that the Incline Gallery used to be a morgue! If you're into art it's an awesome will also satisfy those with morbid curiosity.

As we continued up Valencia and hit 16th street, we stumbled across what had to be one of the world's strangest street corners at that given moment. A man carving a toy from a giant block of wood while drunken onlookers sifted through his bag sharp tools, a four piece band (one of the pieces being an accordian)playing gypsy music, and this--all within 10 feet of each other:

The Taco Bike. Owned by Mission restaurant Weird Fish, this bike sticks to the Mission-one of the only flat neighborhoods in SF-it certainly ain't going up Nob Hill. The crowds of the Mission Block Party were delighted to see this Mercurio bike peddling squid tacos-amongst other things. There is even a condiment stand on the back wheel with a variety of salsas. Click here to see a diagram of the bike-it's pretty fascinating! Apparently these bikes are all over Mexico--they are pretty practical (in flat lands). I've been seeing/hearing about cargo bikes all over the place! How do you guys feel about them?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Steal One of our B-Side 650b MTB Frames

Save over $100! We are closing out our remaining version 1 B-Side frames on the SomaFab Shop. It is a classy looking hardtail in a handsome Carmelized Orange paint job designed around the relatively new 650b wheel size, which is smack dab in between the conventional 26" and 29". Build it geared or single-speed. It is a nimble handling friend that rolls over roots, rock and big divots better than the common 26" wheel. It is probably the ideal bike for those who feel they don't "fit" 29ers or find their handling not as crisp as they want it to be, but still desire some of the advantages 29ers offer.

We do have other older frame colors on sale, too, but we cut the price extra deep on this one to encourage cyclists to experience this new platform.
Been on the fence on 650b?
Looking for the most bang for the buck?
Here it is staring at you in the face.

We will definitely continue with the B-Side, but we don't have an ETA of when version 2 may be ready.

Soma Double Bearing Headsets..durable and muy guapo.

Conceived by Soma these headsets are a collaboration between us and KyotoLOCO (host of the world famous fixed gear festival). These headsets are super durable! Ideal for bike messengers(naturally), fixed gear freestylers and mountain bikes-any high impact riding. Made by Tange-Seiki, we've got 1" and 1 1/8" in black, white and silver.

Here's a cutaway of the double row bearing in the lower cup.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Doctor Says A Carbon Fiber Bike Is No Quicker Than Steel

In the British Medical Journal a doctor reports that his 27-mile commute is not speeded up by his more expensive carbon race bike.

Dr. Jeremy Groves rode his 20.9 lb. carbon framed bicycle over the same commuting route as his 29.75 lb. steel bicycle from January through July 2010. He found that the average difference in travel time was a little over 30 seconds.

Please note this was not meant to be a serious report. This is the light-hearted Christmas edition of the BMJ and, while the papers published in this edition are scientifically sound, the subject matter tends to be less-than-serious. Previous Christmas BMJs have tried determining the speed of Santa's sleigh.

Dr Groves told BikeBiz:

"I should emphasise, and this has been lost in some of the reporting by the larger news organisations, the study relates to my commuting journey and to generalise this to all trips (especially competitive cycling) on light weight bicycles is taking the study a bit far!

"I do think the point holds though, when commuting there are other influences (particularly the weather, road conditions and fitness of the rider etc) that will have a far greater impact on journey time that the weight or specification of the bicycle."

Which do I enjoy riding most? Well, after the trial I have to go for the steel bike. I get there as quickly, and it is more comfortable, better value, and has more “character.”

Which we must add, "More people should listen to their doctors."

More commentary available at Bike Biz and EcoVelo. Full test report here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Don't lose your boots, get Soma Deep Toe Clips!

Protect your feet this winter, don't lose your boots whether they be wellie, snow, UGGs(just joking). Get yourself some Soma Deep Steel Toe Clips with a sexy chrome finish. We've got them with 2-gates or 4-gates in S/M or L/XL.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dear Bicycle Times-bound Buena Vista: It was fun while it lasted

Dark, sleek, a touch frisky...we will miss you

Check out the Soma Eurotrip Fenders look nice over Soma New Xpress 700c's in Terra Cotta... The rear wheel is a Soma Iggy Wheel w/ Sturmey Archer Wide Ratio 8 speed hub. Needless to say this setup is perfect for wet winter weather...

The Soma Electric Saddle in Dominatrix Black adds some edge. The cable routing is right hand to front brake; it's cleaner and what Karl at Bicycle Times requested. The handlebars are our Soma Sparrow Handlebars in the 560mm length with Cardiff Julian Leather Grips in Black. The shifter is a Sturmey-Archer 8 speed twist shifter. Brakes are Dia-compe 610 brakes. It's set up pretty upright, but they can easily go less upright by flipping the bar and moving it down one spacer.

So long Buena Vista!!

Double Cross DC All Sizes: Back in Stock!

Soma Double Cross DC Frames: ALL SIZES!